Is there a correlation between VPN usage and government restrictions?

RapidVPN/ April 16, 2016/ Blog/

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network or VPN, enables a private network to be spread across a public network, such as the Internet. VPNs allow users to send and receive data across networks as if their devices were directly connected to a private network. VPNs also give people the multiple benefits of a private network i.e. functionality, security and management policies, when they are away from their home.


Is there variation in VPN usage geographically?

Although the Internet is global, not all the services provided on the Internet are available to all users connected to it. This is especially true of sites, and services like Netflix which are only available to people connecting to the site from certain geographical regions. As a result of this, the most popular usage of VPNs is to access geographically blocked online content, and in particular entertainment content such as Netflix. As a result, VPN usage is high in countries where such online content is blocked. These countries include Indonesia, Thailand and Brazil, which all have over 30% of internet users using VPNs. The lowest numbers of VPN usage have been reported in Australia, Poland and Japan, where online content is readily available, and only 10% of internet users use a VPN.


Is there a correlation between VPN usage and government restrictions?

There are other reasons why there are VPN variations geographically, which include the fact that using a VPN enables people to secure their internet connection, and ensures that any information that they send and receive is encrypted, and secured away from prying eyes, which in some cases can include government organisations. What is more, VPNs also enable people to get around government restrictions on online content, and thus gives them the opportunity to access overseas websites and services.


In line with the functions of a VPN, especially in terms of security and the ability that VPNs give people to access online information from a country of their choosing, it would seem intuitive that there would be a relationship between the number of VPN users and the level of governmental restrictions in the country in which those users reside. In support, it has been found that the more authoritarian and repressive a countries regime, the more likely it is that people will access the internet, and online content over a VPN. For example, the highest incidence of VPN usage has been reported in China and Iran, where the government has placed strict restrictions on the available content of online material.


To conclude, it seems apparent that yes there is a correlation between VPN usage and government restrictions on online content.